Thanks for joining our Labor Day Sunday Bible study. If you yearn to know “What the Bible Says About Work,” click Vol. 77 from last year.
Today, we will review passages about Jerusalem, from where my husband and I recently returned. After visiting prominent Old and New Testament holy sites, I felt inspired to share what the Word of God says about my favorite city. Undoubtedly, readers who have visited Jerusalem (or Israel in general) can relate to how one’s faith journey is deepened by walking where the Bible comes alive.
Jerusalem is the most referenced biblical city, mentioned over 800 times. Also, an Israeli website lists 70 different names for Jerusalem. The Hebrew root of the word “Jerusalem” is both inspiring and meaningful. According to the Ancient Hebrew Research Center:
“Jerusalem (pronounced yerushalaim in Hebrew) is a combination of two words. The first is yeru meaning’ flow.’ This word has several applications such as the flowing of water in a river, the throwing of something as being flowed out of the hand, or as the flowing of a finger in the sense of pointing out the way one should go.”
Myra believes “flow” could refer to God’s presence flowing in, around, and out of Jerusalem to impact His chosen people. Now the second part of word “Jerusalem” is explained as follows:
“The shalayim is from the word shalam, meaning complete and whole. (The word Shalom is also derived from shalam — while it is usually translated as peace, it more means to be complete or whole). When these two words are put together, they mean something like “pointing the way to completeness.”
Honestly, I was awestruck to learn that the root name of the city where my Lord Jesus Christ suffered, was crucified and resurrected, was derived from “flow” or a “sense of pointing out the way one should go” for “completeness.” Contemplate those roots for a moment. When I did, the words of Jesus “flowed” into my brain:
“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). That declaration helps defines “completeness” — “pointing out the way one should go.”
What follows are some prominent verses referencing Jerusalem.
We begin with a verse from Genesis where Salem is first mentioned. Salem is an abbreviated version of Jerusalem that we learned stems from the word “shalam” — “usually translated as peace.” I chose this verse about Melchizedek for my first and 50th Bible study topic since many Bible scholars believe, as I do, that Melchizedek is the prefiguration of Jesus:
“Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. He was priest of God Most High, and he blessed Abram, saying, ‘Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth. And praise be to God Most High, who delivered your enemies into your hand.’ Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything” (Gen.14:18-20).
Next and the first time the full word “Jerusalem” appears is five books later in Joshua:
“Adoni-zedek, king of Jerusalem, heard that Joshua had captured and completely destroyed Ai and killed its king, just as he had destroyed the town of Jericho and killed its king” (Joshua 10:1). Note: My NIV Study Bible footnote reads:
“Adoni-zedek means ‘lord of righteousness’ or ‘My (divine) lord is righteous.’ An earlier king of Jerusalem had a similar name (Melchizedek).”
Moreover, remember the Lord anointed Joshua after the death of Moses to lead His people into the Promised Land. God’s name and His will are intertwined with Jerusalem. (Read more about how God interacted with and blessed Joshua in Vols. 89 and 118.)
Moving forward in the Hebrew Bible, the Psalmist establishes God’s identity and permanent mailing address:
“In Judah God is known; his name is great in Israel. His abode has been established in Salem, his dwelling place in Zion” (Psalm 76:2).
This next Psalm is credited to King David, who, over 3,000 years ago, decreed Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. This Psalm includes a famous, popular phrase:
“Jerusalem is built like a city that is closely compacted together. That is where the tribes go up— the tribes of the Lord— to praise the name of the Lord according to the statute given to Israel. There stand the thrones for judgment, the thrones of the house of David. Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: ‘May those who love you be secure’ ” (Psalm 122:3-6).
Centuries later, the prophet Jeremiah whom we studied in Vol. 115, wrote about the power of Jerusalem:
“At that time they will call Jerusalem The Throne of the Lord, and all nations will gather in Jerusalem to honor the name of the Lord. No longer will they follow the stubbornness of their evil hearts” (Jeremiah 3:17).
Now we briefly turn to the New Testament.
The temple in Jerusalem is a pivotal place in the life and ministry of Jesus. First, as an infant where Mary and Joseph met an elderly man named Simeon:
Secondly when Jesus is about age 12 — and first time we read about Jesus since His birth story:
“Every year Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for the Festival of the Passover” (Luke 2:41). Luke famously recorded when Jesus stayed in the temple courts and wowed the elders. Then, a day later, his parents frantically realized Jesus was not in their caravan.
As with God in the Old Testament, Jesus and Jerusalem are inextricably linked. For example, on the way to His Triumphal Entry on Palm Sunday that led to his crucifixion, death and resurrection, Jesus foretold the city’s destruction by the Romans in AD 70:
“As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it” and ” ‘They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you’ ” (Luke 19:41-44).
Immediately before Jesus ascends to heaven:
“He opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures”.. ‘This is what is written: ” ‘ The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.. ‘ ” (Luke 24:45-49) abbreviated.
So much more, so little space, but I encourage you to pursue further research.
Our takeaway lesson is that Jerusalem belongs to Almighty God forever and ever. Someday, Jesus will make another “Triumphal Entry,” but until then:
Author’s Note: Readers can find all previous volumes of this series here. The first 56 volumes are compiled into the book “Bible Study For Those Who Don’t Read The Bible.” Part Two, featuring volumes 57-113, will be published later this year.
Myra Kahn Adams is a conservative political and religious writer with numerous national credits. Her book, “Bible Study For Those Who Don’t Read The Bible,” reprints the first 56 volumes of this popular study. Myra is also Executive Director of SignFromGod.org, a ministry dedicated to education about the Shroud of Turin.
Cross-posted at Townhall and Substack.